By Victor Hugo
Why this book?
Set at the height of the French Revolution, in the midst of the Terror, this novel by the Romantic writer Victor Hugo depicts the contest between revolutionary “Blues” and counter-revolutionary “Whites” in Brittany. Emphasizing the ideological conviction of both sides, the novel provides a vivid introduction to the civil war engendered by the Revolution of 1789, between radical Jacobins, on the one hand, and traditionalist nobles, priests, and peasants, especially in the Vendée region of western France, on the other. While it is perhaps a bit melodramatic for modern tastes, this lesser-known novel by one of France’s most celebrated authors nonetheless still deserves to be read for the way in which it encapsulates the complexities of human motivation and experience in the midst of a revolution.
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